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Mystery Meals: Vegetable Nut Loaf

The Mystery Meals series is without a doubt one of my favorite things to do for the blog because it connects me to my grandmother who has passed away and it satiates my curiosity. If you are new to Mystery Meals let me explain my process. When my grandmother passed away I inherited a recipe box with everything from newspaper clippings to ingredients written on the back of a napkin. I remember going through this box as a kid thinking how fun it would be to create all these amazing recipes so as an adult, I’ve decided to tackle just that but since the box is jam and I can be a bit indecisive I have selected the random method. As in, I randomly stick my hand in the box and randomly pull out a recipe and pray that it has enough information to complete. The first one I ever did didn’t tell you what it was so that was taking the idea of mysterious to a whole new level.

This week I pulled out a newspaper clipping titled “Vegetable Nut Loaf” which sounded a bit questionable and the ingredients didn’t help my feelings any. I love nuts and legumes so I didn’t think it would necessarily taste bad but there didn’t seem to be a whole lot to make it taste good either but off I went on my culinary adventure.

The recipe itself was simple enough. Measure everything into a bowl and mix. Put in a loaf pan and bake. Done. The execution was a bit strange as I figured it would be. I had a suspicion from the list of ingredients that this might be one of those holdovers from World War II because it reminded me very much of a rationing recipe I made out of curiosity once called Skilly. Skilly is basically savory oatmeal and carrots which isn’t terrible but isn’t great either. Actually, it’s exactly what I imagined people in the Blitz were eating.

The ingredients for this loaf are much the same with little flavoring and only one egg. That’s where I got worried because that’s not a lot of binding agent to make a bread that can hold its shape. (Maybe if I had grated carrots instead of using the shoestring style it would have added a bit of moisture but I don't think the difference would have been huge.) When I mixed everything together it had the consistency of lightly damp sand but not damp enough to build a castle. I was tempted to add an extra egg to give it a fighting chance and I REALLY wanted to add some flavoring to help it out but I try to be as true to the original as possible. My own version of experimental archeology. I tried to compact it in the pan as much as possible and cooked it as stated.

So, how did it turn out? It was a bit cuttable as long as you took extreme care. If you jostled it too much it would fall apart all over the counter. I also found that if you stuck it in the toaster oven and got it a bit crispier the nuttiness helped the flavor. Ultimately, I was surprised how something with so many ingredients could have no flavor whatsoever. It truly tasted like wartime food. Trying to make the best of a bad situation. Personally, I think if you added some herbs and toasted it up a bit it would make a great topping on a salad or casserole, maybe even a substitute for stuffing in a pinch but I’m thinking I won’t be making this one again.


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